Medieval India

Extra Questions

Short Answer Questions

Write a note on the impact of revision of chronicles.

Answer: Some authors revised their chronicles at different times. The fourteenth century chronicler Ziyauddin Barani wrote his chronicle first in 1356 and wrote another version two years later. Both the versions differ from each other. Historians were not aware of the existence of the earlier version till the 1960s because it remained lost in large library collections.

What was the drawback of the basis on which the historians divided the history of India during the mid-nineteenth century?

Answer: The premise of dividing the time period based on religion was that the religion of rulers was considered to be the only important historical change, and it was presumed that there was no change in the social, economic and cultural aspects. Such classification also ignored the rich diversity of the subcontinent.

Write about classification based on economic and social factors.

Answer: This classification considers the major developments in the economic and social front for the purpose of periodisation. The medieval period has witnessed the spread of peasant societies, the rise of regional and imperial state formations, the development of Hinduism and Islam as major religions, and the arrival of European trading companies.

How does information change over a period of time?

Answer: Information changes over a period of time

Very Short Answer Type Questions

Name the sources used by historians for their study, during the period 700 to 1750.

Answer: Coins, inscriptions, architecture and textual records.

List the uses of paper during the medieval period.

Answer: Paper was used to write holy texts, chronicles of rulers, letters and teachings of saints, petitions and judicial records, and for registers of accounts and taxes.

Why is the study of the thousand years between 700 and 1750 a big challenge to historians?

Answer: Because of rare availability of original manuscript by the author. This leads to dependence on the copies (which are quite different from the original version) of later scribes.

Define the term patron in the context of the chapter.

Answer: The influential and wealthy people i.e. the patrons gave a lot of support to the Brahamanas, thus resulting in the increased importance and respect for Brahamanas.

Long Answer Type Questions

Describe the copying of manuscripts.

Answer: Since printing press was not available in the ancient times, scribes copied manuscripts by hand. This was a challenging task because there are instances where the handwriting is not very clear and legible. Hence, while copying they are forced to guess what is written. Consequently there are small but significant changes in the original record and the copied record. Over centuries of copying, these small differences get accumulated and become big enough to bring about a substantial difference in texts. This is a serious matter because we rarely find the original manuscript of the author today. We are therefore dependent on the copies made by later scribes. Hence historians have to read many copies of manuscripts i.e. different versions of manuscripts to before concluding what was originally written.

Write in detail about castes.

Answer: Rajputs were a group of people who became popular during this time. The name Rajputs is derived from ‘Rajputra’ which means ‘son of the ruler’. The term was applied more generally to a group of warriors during the period between the eighth century and the fourteenth century. These groups of warriors claimed the Kshatriya status. The term ‘Kshatriya’ included, apart from rulers and chieftains, the soldiers and commanders who served in the armies of different monarchs all over the subcontinent. Qualities attributed to Rajputs by their poets were extreme valour and a great sense of loyalty. Other groups which used the opportunities of the period for becoming popular were Jats, Marathas, Sikhs, Ahoms and Kayasthas (a caste of scribes and secretaries).

Write a note on region and empire.

Answer: Large states like those governed by the Cholas, Tughluqs and Mughals encompassed many regions. For example; the Delhi Sultan Ghiyasuddin Balban was the ruler of a vast empire that stretched from Bengal in the east to Ghazni in Afghanistan in the west and included all of south India also. He was a great conqueror. By 700, many regions possessed their distinct geographical dimensions, languages and culture. They were associated with specific ruling dynasties which had considerable conflicts amongst them. Occasionally dynasties like the Tughlaqs, Mughals, Cholas and Khaljis were able to build an empire that was pan-regional, i.e. spanning different diverse regions. All these empires were not equally stable or successful. The decline of the Mughal Empire led to the re-emergence of regional states. But the character of the regions was altered by the years of pan-regional, imperial rule. Regions of most of the sub-continent were left with the legacies of big and small states that had ruled over them. This was apparent from the emergence of many distinct and shared traditions in the spheres of governance, management of the economy and elite cultures and language. The character of the different regions, through the thousand years felt the impact of pan-regional forces of integration without losing their distinctiveness.

Describe sub-castes.

Answer: The forest dwellers who did not migrate in spite of clearing of forests started tilling the land and became peasants. These new peasant groups slowly began to be influenced by the regional markets, chieftains, priests, monasteries and temples. They became a part of large, complex societies and hence had to pay taxes and also offer the goods and services to the local lords. As a result, huge differences emerged among the peasants, socially and economically. Some of them had big productive land holdings, cattle and also did some artisanal work during the lean season of agriculture. These differences in the society led to the grouping of the people into jatis or sub-castes which were ranked based on their backgrounds and occupations. The ranks kept changing at different areas and time periods based on the power, influence and resources controlled by the members of the jati.

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